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Mapping the Norwegian seabed

15.01.2014 // What does the marine landscape look like on the Norwegian continental shelf and slope? What are the relationships between the physical environment, species diversity and biological resources? What impact does human activity have on seabed ecosystems? Are the sediments contaminated?

We have been harvesting Norway’s coastal waters for centuries, and been undertaken a significant amount of marine research for decades. , The discovery of several sizable coral reefs on the mid-Norwegian coastal shelf in recent decades revealed gaps in our knowledge of the seabed. A renewed focus on integrated management of Norwegian waters led to the establishment of MAREANO-program (Marine AREA Database for Norwegian Coastal and Sea Areas).     

The purpose of MAREANO is to acquire more detailed knowledge of ecosystems, habitats and biodiversity on Norway’s territorial seabed through detailed mapping of depth, sediments, seabed fauna and pollutants. Results from the MAREANO program, including maps and illustrations, are published at www.mareano.no/english as they become available.
MAREANO provides valuable scientific results used in regulating human activities such as the oil and fisheries activities. 

MAREANO gives authorities, research bodies, the fisheries and petroleum industry and the general public direct access to research results and survey data via an online database. A key component of the website is a tool enabling the user to combine data from various sources to produce charts. The datasets may be utilised in a number of ways. Information on “vulnerable nature types” is important when planning how a sea area is to be exploited in the future.

Indentifying concerns

MAREANO data can form the basis for monitoring biodiversity status and biological production associated with seabed areas. MAREANO can also enhance fishing efficiency and cost-effectiveness while reducing environmental impact by providing fishing vessels with valuable information on where to fish and which equipment to use. Potential conflicts arise when spawning grounds for fish coincide with areas of planned impactive activities. Here, too, MAREANO data can be utilised to identify concerns in the planning phase of such activities. 

Joint long-term effort

The MAREANO activities are conducted by the Institute of Marine Research in collaboration with the Geological Survey of Norway and the Norwegian Hydrographic Service. The programme is financed by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Fisheries and the Ministry of the Environment. The MAREANO project initially focused on seabed conditions and marine resources in a 162,000 km2 area of the Barents Sea and the northern part of the Norwegian Sea. In 2011, MAREANO started mapping the Previously Disputed Area close to the Russian border.

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